Apple Event wall of faces - faceid memes

Screengrab via Apple

Apple’s creepy new face-recognizing phone can’t hide from Twitter’s jokes

Apple had a new iPhone. Twitter had jokes.


Jay Hathaway

Internet Culture

Posted on Sep 12, 2017   Updated on May 22, 2021, 5:42 pm CDT

An Apple Event, the only form of corporate pageantry that makes people afraid of spoilers, took place Tuesday at Apple’s new spaceship campus. A new Apple TV streaming box was announced, and so were some new iPhones. As with any major entertainment event, which is what these things have become, some people were just there for the jokes.

One of the most mocked new features was the iPhone X’s facial recognition feature, FaceID, which will unlock your phone by scanning your face. Or at least, it’s supposed to. It took two tries in the demonstration, a fact not lost on the audience.

FaceID is an impressive bit of technology, but some are worried that it’s a creepy, dystopian privacy violation waiting to happen. Apple’s wall of disembodied faces is already becoming something of a depressing meme.

And then, of course, there’s the “Animojis,” large emoji that have facial expressions on them, thanks to the Apple magic of FaceID. The animoji can “read” messages you send to others. You can represent yourself as a talking chicken or a talking poo, as demonstrated on stage by Apple’s Craig Federighi.

This is one of the weirdest things about FaceID, but it’s not the worst. As some critics have pointed out, facial recognition could be a big enabler for law enforcement and the surveillance state.

Here’s the thing about criticizing Apple during their vaunted keynotes, though. If you’re putting energy into livetweeting sick burns, Apple’s already won.

See you next year.

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*First Published: Sep 12, 2017, 3:08 pm CDT